October 9th, 2020 -- The Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECPCGC) programme has been officially launched. Representatives from the six participating member states joined the Organisers and other stakeholders for the virtual launch on Monday, 5 October. The ECPCGC which is an initiative of the World Bank and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), presents fresh opportunities for entrepreneurs who do not now have adequate collateral to qualify for business loans.
In partnership with financial institutions, the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation guarantees up to 75% of the security or collateral needed by Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs for business loans. Each of the 6 member states of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union has contributed US$2m to the fund - Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. ECPCGC has formed partnerships with 6 regional banks - Bank of St. Lucia, National Bank of Dominica, St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank, First National Bank of St Lucia, Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank and Antigua Commercial Bank. Entrepreneurs can approach these banks and apply for loans to expand their businesses or to obtain working capital. They will be assessed by the banks, and if they qualify, their applications would be sent by the lenders for a guarantee. Credit unions and development banks will also be admitted to the guarantee programme.
In addition to the guarantee, ECPCGC is charged with building the capacity of the entrepreneurs. To this end, in conjunction with regional trainers, ECPCGC will roll out a series of training sessions to MSMEs, aimed at improving their management and financial knowledge.
The World Bank and the ECCB conceptualized the idea to form the ECPCGC in 2015. Following this, research was done and the teams held seminars, town halls and discussions with direct input from the stakeholders across the ECCU. By 2018, regional governments had passed the necessary legislation in their parliaments and had appointed nationals to the Board of Directors of the Corporation. Also chosen to serve on the Board was one member of the ECCU Bankers Association and 2 members of business organizations chosen from 2 islands in rotation. In 2019, staff were hired to the Corporation, and in 2020, full operations began.
At the opening ceremony, Ms. Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, brought greetings from the Bank and said: “Small businesses across the Eastern Caribbean have been facing difficult financial conditions, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These enterprises - run by men, women and young entrepreneurs - are the backbone of the local economy and provide essential goods, services, and jobs.
The current challenges are particularly prominent in client-facing sectors such as tourism, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of all OECS export earnings and almost 80,000 direct jobs. Financial support at this critical time can make a difference to these small and medium enterprises enabling them to stay in business. With the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation, these enterprises have a lifeline. The World Bank remains committed to working closely with the Eastern Caribbean and is proud to be a partner in the journey towards developing a more resilient and prosperous region.”
Also addressing the audience were the Governor of ECCB, Mr. Timothy N. J. Antoine and the Chairman of the Board of ECPCGC, Mr. Michael Spencer. The Financial Secretary of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Whitfield Harris Jr. presented the perspective of the regional governments and the vision that they have for the Corporation. The Managing Director of National Bank of Dominica, Mr. Ellingworth Edwards, and the Acting Managing Director of Bank of St. Lucia, Mr. Medford Francis, also espoused their vision of the partnership with ECPCGC and the benefits that will accrue to their MSME clients.
The participants were also treated to a video presentation featuring a slide show of regional entrepreneurs, with the theme song “Celebrating Caricom” being rendered by Michele Henderson, a national of Dominica.
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